So Fine Gael organized a barbecue in memory of Michael Collins to mark the centenary of his assassination. And a lunch. And 19 screenings of the Neil Jordan film about Michael Collins. And – for a fiver – they’ll sell you a Michael Collins pin to wear on your lapel.
Fine Gael’s label is embroidered into Mick’s coat, hat, pants and briefs.
The story is adjusted.
One guy is being quietly buried in an unmarked grave in the basement of the Theater of History. Another guy, more photogenic and without any hint of Hitler, is placed in the middle of the stage.
We’ll take a look at Fine Gael’s cynical adaptation of the story in a moment. But let’s start with a few words on Leo Varadkar’s defence.
If Mr V does something – anything – hordes of angry people on Twitter will point out that he should have done it years ago, or that he should have done it differently, or that he shouldn’t have done it at all, or that he did it should have done it twice.
Some innocent people might tweet about what a beautiful sunset they just saw. And even they could endure a blizzard of comments about how that bastard Varadkar said something on the radio this morning that has demeaned every single aspect of Irish life. Including that evening’s shabby sunset which is a disgusting insult to the Irish people.
Such people don’t even play politics, they play personalities.
They genuinely believe that if Varadkar were driven out of politics, a lot of things that are wrong in this country would suddenly become right.
That’s what the Fine Gaelers who hated Charlie Haughey thought. If we can postpone the devilish Haughey, the sun will shine again on dear old Ireland.
Haughey left the Dáil, he left Fianna Fáil, and finally he left in a still more definitive way. His death – like most of his post-1970 career – had little discernible impact on Irish life.
Mr. Varadkar, to be fair, is no Charlie Haughey. First off, Haughey had a solid track record from his early years (before he got crooked).
Lord Varadkar has no such record. But he’s not a dead loss.
Today, former Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe is recognized as an honorable police officer who did the right thing for the right reasons. But remember those early days when Sergeant McCabe was almost crushed by An Gardaí Síochána’s reaction to his whistleblowing?
Back then, the only politicians supporting him were the likes of Clare Daly and Mick Wallace.
When the Garda Commissioner called Sergeant McCabe “disgusting” and the political establishment remained silent, Varadkar was asked if he agreed. The wisest thing was to murmur his hope that all parties would come to an agreement that would restore confidence in the force.
Varadkar bluntly said that the word he preferred to use for McCabe was “excellent.”
Varadkar said the obvious. Sergeant McCabe was right. His critics were wrong.
Fine Gael’s behavior was morally wrong – and in the worst interests of the public and the worst interests of the Gardaí. She made a mockery of the label “Law and Order Party”.
Varadkar’s demeanor in assisting Sergeant McCabe suggests he has a streak of propriety that even a long association with Fine Gael has failed to completely erase.
He also has bloody horrible politics, fueled by an ideology that belongs in the 19th century.
And an image obsession. And a level of mindless detachment from reality that even Liz Truss couldn’t manage.
Mr Varadkar’s current campaign involves an attempt to bolster Fine Gael’s claim to represent Michael Collins, a violent man who founded The Squad – a gang of killers focused on killing cops.
While Mr Varadkar rightly insists that Sinn Féin recognize his history, he is quietly reframing his own party’s history.
A Fine Gael TD recently stood up and told the Dáil: “The party of Gerry Adams will never defeat the party of Michael Collins.”
Branding Fine Gael as a party of Michael Collins is good marketing – but there’s a slight difficulty in the chronology.
Collins was shot in 1922. Fine Gael was founded in 1933.
It is quite believable that if Collins had lived he would have helped found Fine Gael. But 11 years is a long time in politics, so we never know.
The enormously radical developments from the 1916 rebellion to independent 26 counties occurred in just seven years.
We can’t say what Collins might have been up to in 1933. Perhaps an invasion of the north? Or shoot British MPs? Or blow up Buckingham Palace? He might have been on the run.
It might have occurred to him that it would be appropriate to shoot the leader of this new Fine Gael group.
He might even have given up politics altogether.
In history we have to deal with what we know happened. Novelists tell us what could have happened.
While Leo Varadkar is busy raising Mick Collins, the man of peace, he moves on to a longer-term project – the annihilation of Fine Gael’s first leader.
It’s been like this for a while.
Fine Gael was formed from a merger of three small entities: Cumann na nGaedheal, the National Center Party and the Army Comrades Association – better known as the Blueshirts.
The leader of the Blueshirts, Eoin O’Duffy, became leader of the new party.
He was damn useless and quit after a year.
There were efforts to portray the blueshirts as a benign outfit – but they were an Irish manifestation of the fascism that was emerging across Europe.
Here, in the Dáil on February 28, 1934, is John A. Costello of Fine Gael, who was to become Taoiseach: “The blackshirts were victorious in Italy…the Hitler shirts were victorious in Germany, as surely…the blueshirts will be in Irish Free State be victorious.”
It’s hard to disagree with Fianna Fáil’s Attorney General Conor Maguire’s response: “Here we have it loud and clear that the Blueshirt organization is here to spearhead an attack on democratic and parliamentary institutions.”
Or Seán MacEntee: “We have been told, and none of you dispute, that the result you are looking for is what has developed in Italy, this is what has developed in Germany.
“Mussolini, Deputy Costello told us, won; Hitler won – and the blue shirts will also achieve their victory. What victory was won in Germany? The most sacred rights of the individual are subordinated and subordinated to the supposed advantage of race.”
There are claims that the blueshirts were merely glorified bouncers preventing the rowdy Fianna Fáilers from causing trouble at meetings. But the blue shirts were fascists, with fascist salutes, fascist rhetoric and fascist intentions. O’Duffy armed them and took them to Spain to help stamp out a democratic government.
Fine Gael today is not fascist but right wing. But Mr. Varadkar works tirelessly to deny the past.
Fine Gael used to have an “Our Leaders” feature on their website. O’Duffy was left out.
This still posed a problem. The party’s first leader, the FG website claimed, was WT Cosgrave, leader “1934-44” – leading readers to wonder why a party founded in 1933 had no leader by 1934.
I am happy to report that this has been resolved. The Our Leaders feature has been removed. Instead of mentioning O’Duffy, all leaders were deleted.
The story appears to be a series of events and people that can be rearranged like a child’s sticker collection.
Young Fine Gaelers should know that by the way MichaelCollins Film is historically flawed. It tells us that Collins invented the car bomb in 1921. Why Mr. V would have you believe that is beyond me.
A great man for ancient history, I hear.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/the-cynical-rewriting-of-blueshirt-history-41925725.html The cynical paraphrase of Blueshirt history